Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Searching For Elephants

Kaeng Krachan National Park is considered the best place in Thailand for bird watchers. Because it was theweekend, dozens of bird watchers were camped at our campsite.

Tom, our tracker/guide, talked with the head of a group in Thai about where to look for elephants. Choke's wife, who was coming along on her first trip, gasped at whatever they were saying. Choke told us the man said where the elephants were.

After breakfast we ventured into the jungle. After walking for less than ten minutes we heard some trees rustling in the distance. No, it wasn't elephants. It was langur monkeys. The monkeys were jumping from tree to tree as we watched. After having our fill of monkeys for the moment -- we would see dozens throughout the weekend -- we continued our trek. We were looking for the largest animal in the forest but kept encountering some of the smallest species:

(PICTURE: A beautiful chiccata that we were told is good luck if found.)

(PICTURE: A pretty freaky looking spider.)

I'd like to take a moment and say how proud I am of my sister. When we were kids you would often hear a blood curdling scream come from Hannah's room, "SPIDER!!!" Hannah was petrified of spiders, especially daddy long legs. Now here we were, in the middle of the jungle and Hannah was searching for spiders! Man, times have changed.

We continued our trek through the jungle following various trails of elephant poo and tracks. Along the way we saw a bunch of cool birds, monkeys, giant squirrels and other things but unfortunately, we couldn't find the elephants.

One quick anecdote: In another case of me trying to be a good big brother, I held a large tree branch back at one point so Hannah could pass and not have to step into a a creek. About ten seconds after she passed I felt a tingling sensation in my hair. I ran my fingers through my hair and saw hundreds of tiny black ants crawling on my hand. Apparently I had held back a tree COVERED in ants and they all conveniently jumped onto my scalp. I got most of the ants out with the help of Choke in a minute or two. Yeah, I said "most of the ants." For the next few hours I was continuing to pull more ants out. For those of you who are counting that's twice I've gotten the bad end of the stick for trying to help my sister!!!